DARK NIGHT STILL …

There is so much to say.
And so much has been said already.
We are in the dark night of the soul …
still.

It is even darker than it was in April.
It is even more crucial than before
that we each take responsibility to do our own personal inner healing work.
It is still more crucial than before
that we each take responsibility to do our own personal soul work
within the cauldron of this dark night.
It is more crucial to us individually
and more crucial to us communally.

We can no longer just leave it to others to take care
of the traumas that got us here,
the traumas that are here in this moment, and
the traumas that we are now creating for our future
and that of generations to come.

We can no longer just act out our ancient traumas.
We can no longer just believe we’re entitled to impact others,
as we willfully act as we please,
insisting we are not responsible,
hoping we’ll escape the trauma we cause,
or deluding ourselves that we will benefit from it.
We can no longer just
not care, just numb ourselves, just turn our backs, just run away,
the consequences be damned …
all of which was done to us when we were traumatized long ago.

In addition …
We can no longer believe we’re doing enough by
taking action in the outer world.
We can no longer believe we’re doing enough by
praying, meditating, chanting.
We can no longer believe we’re doing enough by
responding superficially to our wounds –
by putting bandaids on them and trying to banish the symptoms.
The symptoms are not the real problem.
They are just the manifestation of the problem –
the traumas deep within that we are all being called to heal.

It is our responsibility to continue to do that healing.
Look outside at what’s taking place in our country and our world.
And then look inside to discover how your ancient traumas
are being triggered by what’s occurring.
And then look inside to discover how your ancient traumas
have contributed to what’s occurring.
And then look inside to discover what you need to heal now …
and now …
and now …

I have no more words to say right now.
I encourage you to read and listen to my article from this past April –
DARK NIGHT

https://judithbarr.com/2020/04/14/dark-night/

Safe passage through the dark night …
from my heart to yours …
Judith

© Judith Barr, 2020.

IT’S NOT SAFE TO …

It’s not safe to have parents who lie.
It’s not safe to believe parents who lie.
But if you’re a child with parents who lie,
It’s unbearable to know they are lying
and perhaps dangerous, too.
It’s unbearable to live with parents like that.

It’s not safe to have parents who bully and threaten, even subtly.
But if you’re a child with parents who bully and threaten,
it’s unbearable to experience that cruelty,
and dangerous, too.
It’s unbearable to live with parents like that.

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It’s not safe to have parents who do what they want
the consequences be damned,
believe they can get away with it,
and actually get away with it again and again.
It’s unbearable to have parents like that.
It’s unbearable for a child to know s/he has parents like that.
It’s unbearable for a child to live with parents like that.

It’s not safe to live with parents like these
and then grow up without healing from your experience.
Without the conscious, purposeful healing,
you will become like your parent,
or the opposite of your parent,
or something in between …
each with a cauldron of intense, painful feelings deep inside you.
And … you will unconsciously create situations in the world around you
just like the one you grew up with.

You might be the child/victim of the bullying in the re-enactment;
you might be the bullying parent;
you might try to be the rescuing extended family member.
You might collude with the bully, enable the bully, encourage the bully;
you might try to protect yourself against the bully by joining with him.
But whatever role you enact,
without the conscious, purposeful healing,
it will not be resolvable.
And … you will have to live with the situations you create.
And so will everyone around you.

And all the other children who grow up without healing from their
childhood experiences …
will also unconsciously create situations in the world just like the ones
they grew up with.
You will have to live with their situations, just as they have to live with
yours.
Without the conscious, purposeful healing …
We will all have to live with the re-creations or re-enactments of each
others’ childhood traumas.

It’s not safe to have leaders who lie.
It’s not safe to have leaders who bully and threaten, even subtly.
It’s not safe to have leaders who do what they want
the consequences be damned,
believe they can get away with it,
and actually get away with it again and again.

Without conscious, purposeful healing …
We will all have to live with the re-enactments of each other’s
childhood traumas.

That is exactly what is occurring right now in these United States …
and all over the world.
We all keep creating more trauma from the buried, unhealed trauma we
experienced as children.

It isn’t safe.
It won’t be, no matter what we do in the outer world …
until we heal our inner worlds.

Please listen.
Please take this seriously.
Please take this to heart.
Please spread this truth.
Please do your own inner healing.
That is what will help us all most …
To create real safety.

© Judith Barr, 2020.

NO MORE TRAUMA!

UTILIZE THE TRAUMA TO HEAL THE TRAUMA …

NOT TO CREATE MORE TRAUMA

There is so much trauma in our world.
We’re having trouble facing the truth
of the causes and the consequences.
We need help to face the truth.
We need help to heal the trauma …
not just bandage it.
We need help to heal the trauma
to the roots and from the inside out.

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NO MORE IGNORANCE; NO MORE DENIAL; NO MORE DELUSION!

The leaders in our country and world are acting out their childhood traumas on their countries, on our world, on our planet.

Impeaching them, electing someone else, a revolution … none of these is going to solve the problem. The next leaders will also act out their childhood traumas on the national and global stages.

And the leaders aren’t the only ones.  We, the citizens, act out our childhood traumas in our lives, in our families, in our schools, in our businesses, in our communities, in our countries, and in our world. 

Not only that, but also … we are connected to the leaders whose traumas somehow reflect or intersect with our own. This is unconscious and ends up causing us to decide and act in ways that aren’t really free, that certainly aren’t healthy, and that are often destructive. 

And as I’ve indicated in previous blog posts, this ends up causing us to abuse our children, abuse each other, abuse ourselves, and abuse our planet … either outright and directly, hidden and secretly, or perhaps more subtly, through enabling and collusion.

This will continue until we do our own inner healing to consciously and purposefully work through our young traumas.  

Here’s a step you can take:


Until we heal from our early traumas …
we are held captive –
by our own traumas …
by our leaders’ traumas …
by the traumas we’re trying to forget and bury,
while at the same time acting them out without awareness.

Until we heal from our ancient traumas …
we consciously and unconsciously try to
keep our traumas hidden and buried.
Yet they remain alive and active within us …
like volcanos waiting to erupt.

Until we heal from our long-ago traumas …
we are held hostage –
by the traumas we are creating and re-creating
in our lives,
in the lives of our children,
in the lives of our families,
in the lives of our countries and our world.

Have the courage to wake up …

Have the courage to understand this …
Have the courage to explore and find the roots of your own trauma …
and to heal it.

Here’s another step you can take:


Be aware that you are being triggered by what’s going on in our country and world today.
There are here and now situations that need to be addressed in the here and now.

But your unhealed childhood traumas interfere with your successfully contributing to real, sustained resolution of today’s problems for the long-term.

Be aware that those triggers are rooted in your childhood traumas.
Be aware that the feelings that are triggered are connected to your childhood traumas. 

Don’t act out on those feelings
and don’t bury them.
Have the courage to safely feel the feelings
the child you once were felt in the midst of your trauma.
Know that the child you once were is still alive inside you,
driving you without your realizing it …
until you heal his or her trauma.
 

NO MORE BLINDNESS; NO MORE DEAFNESS; NO MORE NUMBNESS

Here’s still another step you can take:

 

Get the help to end your blindness to what’s going on.
Get the help to end your deafness to what’s going on.
Get the help to end your numbness to what’s going on.
What’s going on within you …
What’s coming from you …
and what’s happening on our planet.

 Climate activist Greta Thunberg has said to the adults of our planet:

Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people, to give them hope.
But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful.
I want you to panic.
I want you to feel the fear I feel every day.
I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis.
I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.” *

What needs to be melted is our numbness.
I have been writing, teaching, urging, and working with people for years …
to feel their panic.
If people had felt the panic from their childhood traumas,
we wouldn’t be in such danger today in so many ways …
individually, communally, and globally.

So it may seem strange to hear a depth psychotherapist who is filled with love and compassion for people in pain to say something similar to what Greta Thunburg is saying:

 I want you to feel your panic from long, long ago …
I want you to find a safe way to feel that panic from your ancient traumas
so you will stop re-creating your trauma and panic in your life and in ours …
today, tomorrow, and in our future.
That, in fact, is the deepest hope!

Find a good therapist to help you safely feel your panic and safely utilize your traumas to heal your traumas. In that way you will collaborate with us all in healing our past traumas and saying ‘no’ to creating new traumas.

This is the work I do with people, day by day by day.
If I can help you, let me know.

Thank you and Many blessings to each of you … and to our planet . . .

Judith

*‘I want you to panic’: Climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, lays it on the line for world leaders

NOTE: To understand more about trauma and its course, read  https://judithbarr.com/2018/10/28/haunted-now-what/ from this time last year.

© Judith Barr, 2019

IF IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD . . . PART TWO

IF IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD … 

THEN IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO ABUSE A CHILD

PART TWO

Welcome to Part Two of this series.
Facing the truth about child abuse in our world
is not an easy task.
I honor your courage and willingness to take a deep dive
into this meaningful journey into consciousness…
into this profound journey into grounded awakening…
into this crucial journey into the healing of child abuse in our world…
into this imperative journey into healing abuse and trauma in our world.

In Part One I talked about child abuse, and how it is not caused by just one abuser,
but rather by a larger village of people playing different roles.

I spoke of many examples of child sexual abuse –
both private-not-yet-made-public
and also once-private-now-public.
I gave examples of how the sexual abuse of children requires not just one abuser,
but rather a larger village to “make and allow it to happen.”

If It Takes a Village to Raise a Child... Then It Takes a Village to Abuse a Child (part 2)
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In this part of the series, we will look at the village it takes to create child abuse on an even larger scale than before.
It might be tempting to turn away and not learn more.
But then, turning away and not learning more
is one of the ways we become part of the village that helps to abuse a child,
and even many children.

************

Leaving Neverland

In early 2019, the documentary “Leaving Neverland” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Following that, it was released on HBO in early March. It revealed the experiences of two men, ages 36 and 40, who had been groomed and then sexually abused by Michael Jackson beginning when they were 7 and 10 years old.

The two little boys, Wade and James, and their families were seduced and groomed* by Michael Jackson.  They were seduced and drawn in for the purpose of gaining their trust … so that down the road, they would trust Michael, they would be blind, deaf, and numb to what Michael was doing and to the state of their own being, and they wouldn’t dream of telling anyone what was going on with Michael.

A child is vulnerable to such seduction and grooming. If, as an adult, someone is still seduceable in the same way, it is an indication of some wounding in his/her childhood that leaves them still vulnerable and unconscious on a young level of their being.

It Takes a Village to Abuse A Child –
My Awareness in My Practice as a Healing Practitioner

As a depth psychotherapist and Midwife to the Soul, I have worked with countless adults who were abused in many ways during their childhood. Many ways, including sexual abuse.  I have helped them work with the painful experiences, the painful memories as they came, the painful consequences in their inner and outer worlds. I have been with them as they have expressed their feelings – building their capacity to feel them and let them come out safely and for the purpose of healing.  I have witnessed, heard, and felt with them as they have expressed their need for the abuse to have never happened at all … and just as much, for someone to have helped them, for someone to have stopped the abuse. In each person’s experience, no one stopped it and no one helped them.   So in this way, I know up close with people about whom I care deeply … that it took a village to abuse these children.

And knowing from experience with these people, I can also see the dynamic of “it takes a village to abuse a child” in other arenas and other forms. After watching both parts of “Leaving Neverland,” the truth of Wade’s and James’ experiences and the “it takes a village” dynamic was very clear and very resonant.

How People Out in the World Responded
to “Leaving Neverland”

Many denied the experiences revealed by Wade and James.  Michael’s family. Michael’s estate. Many of Michael’s still devoted fans. Twitter was alive with denials and attacks on these two brave men and the people who created the documentary.

While perhaps many of Michael’s staff remained silent, it seems some came forward and revealed things they had been aware of.

The families of the two children, who had allowed their boys to sleep in Michael’s room with him, finally knew what had happened and spoke of their regret, sorrow, and more.

All of these people made up the village who, in one way or other, participated in the ongoing sexual abuse of Wade and James and …. others.

And then came another shocking example of a participant. Someone who people would have perhaps never have suspected.  Barbra Streisand. “Rolling Stone,” March 23, 2019, reported:

“Speaking to The Times UK, ahead of her London concerts this summer, Streisand said she ‘absolutely’
believed the accounts of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, but added, ‘You can say ‘molested’, but
those children, as you heard say, they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have
children, so it didn’t kill them.’

“ ‘His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA
he has…’ Streisand said of Jackson.”

How Barbra Streisand could think, feel, and say those things is a painful mystery! What wounds does she carry within her – both those known to her and still repressed deep beneath her awareness – that could be revealed in her responses to the documentary?  What trauma of her own is still unhealed within her that she could believe her attempts at apology could carry any weight? Any resonance to truth?  And Barbra Streisand is simply one of millions – although a celebrity icon, at that! With a lot of impact. A celebrity icon like Michael Jackson was a celebrity icon.

The World Village that Abuses Our Children

After the release of “Leaving Neverland,” something came across my desk about art in different forms that had been created by people who had acted out destructively in their lives. The essence of the message was ‘don’t stop looking at or listening to a particular work of art just because the artist was destructive.’

This message took me to the lyrics of two of Michael Jackson’s most famous songs. Although I was not at all a fan of Michael Jackson in his lifetime, I had seen and heard bits and pieces of him singing these two songs from time to time on the radio or television. I had had no interest in going further.

When I recently saw the lyrics, I was so deeply affected. I saw that they so very likely described both someone who had been abused as a child and also someone who would perpetrate abuse on children, or already had been doing so.  I know “Thriller” was not written by Michael, but he did sing it, dance it, embody it, live it on stage again and again for years. And apparently, he also lived it in his life … probably his life as a child, and now it seems more certainly revealed that he lived it in his adult life with little children.  And Michael did write “Bad,” and also embodied it and likely lived it in his life.

Some lines from each …

Thriller (1982)

It’s close to midnight
Something evil’s lurking from the dark
Under the moonlight
You see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream
But terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze
As horror looks you right between your eyes
You’re paralyzed

‘Cause this is thriller
Thriller night
And no one’s gonna save you
From the beast about to strike


And from “Bad” (1987)

Your butt is mine
Gonna tell you right
Just show your face
In broad daylight
I’m telling you
On how I feel
Gonna hurt your mind
Don’t shoot to kill
Come on …

Well they say the sky’s the limit
And to me that’s really true
But my friend you have seen nothin’
Just wait ’til I get through

Because I’m bad, I’m bad come on …
And the whole world has to
Answer right now
Just to tell you once again
Who’s bad

Questions flooded through me! How many people had been seduced by these two songs because they reflected the listener’s own childhood wounds? How many had been drawn in by the horror of the memory of their own abuse presented outside them in a song, dance, video, performance. We often do that – what we can’t tolerate remembering or feeling from our own young experiences, we project onto, or find something in the outer world to mirror it for us. How much of Jackson’s fame and fans had been responding to this?

And how many had been drawn in by the compulsion fantasy to do to others what had been done to them, also a common response to childhood abuse? The fantasy and feelings almost always, even if repressed. The acting it out – not always, not necessarily, but often expressed in other ways … among them, watching horror shows or songs entitled “Thriller” or “Bad.”

However people were drawn in to Michael Jackson, it’s so important to explore what it was in each person that was vulnerable to being seduced … even by his songs.

I’ve wondered … If I had read the lyrics to these songs way back when, would I have realized the mirrors they were of the abuse of Michael and the abuse by Michael?  Would I have had enough experience working with people’s suffering from childhood encounters with sexual abuse in particular and any kind of abuse in general … that I would have recognized it and been able to create a way to expose it, reveal it, help people pierce their defenses against it?

I don’t know. But I do know … it’s right there in his songs and has been all along. Any one or more of us could have seen it … if we’d had the awareness, the sight, the vision, the heart, the willingness to receive and connect beneath everything else that was going on.

This is a painful example of how we all contributed to the abuse of children all over the world. This is a single painful example of how we have all been part of the village that abused the children.

Some Who Work to End the Abuse of Children

There are some in our world who get it. Who get how much child abuse and child sexual abuse goes on in our world. There are some who get the pattern of grooming that is so enmeshed with the sexual abuse itself. There are some who get the seduction in many forms – including both trusting and frightening, both seemingly gentle and violent, and all very confusing for a child.

Among those I know get it:
There is the California Protective Parents Association.

There is Oprah Winfrey: who spoke out after the release of the movie, saying that this moment is bigger than Michael Jackson; acknowledging that she did 217 shows in 25 years on sexual abuse, trying to get people to see the scourge on humanity,  the societal corruption that was being revealed once again through this movie.

There are those I have worked with who have been sexually abused, who are thankful, as I am, for the MeToo Movement, but … who are so distressed that these recent movements don’t attend to the sexual abuse that is happening to children all over our country and our world every single day.

There are a few of my colleagues who have supported and encouraged me to write about this again and again.

And there is, of course, my heart and soul and my own muse – calling to me again and again to help more and more deeply, more and more broadly, to heal child sexual abuse as one specific form, and, of course, child abuse in all its forms.

As I ended Part One of this series …

Mind you, this is a mirror to us not only of how we react to the sexual abuse of children, but also of how we react to other serious problems in our lives – in our families, in our institutions and organizations, in our countries and in our world.

Tune in soon for the next installment to learn more about the impact of the village that helps to abuse children … the impact by us and on us all over our world, every single day.

* Child grooming:  https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_grooming

Note 1: To read or listen to Part One of this series:  https://judithbarr.com/2019/05/18/it-takes-a-village-part-1/

Note 2: There are many ways you can learn about child abuse, grooming, sexual abuse, and the repetitive cycle of abuse in our world. It is, of course, a painful learning; but so very crucial.  Some of the ways that are, in addition to painful, also grounded, sensitive, and inspiring, include:

The movie, Leaving Neverland

The book, Little Girl Leaving: A Novel Based on A True Story, by Lisa Blume

The book, How Did We Get Here? Our Refusal to Know the Truth About Ourselves: Blowing the Whistle on Us – For the Trauma We’ve Experienced and the Trauma We Create, by Judith Barr

If you plan to watch the video or read Lisa Blume’s book and have been sexually abused or think you may have been, or even if you don’t think you may have been, or even if you don’t remember, please create a plan to take care of yourself before reading or viewing.  That plan would include having support people available, even to watch with you, and having a therapist you can work with, if something opens up that you need help with.

© Judith Barr, 2019.

 

IF IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD …

THEN IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO ABUSE A CHILD

No, don’t go away. Stay.
This is important. This is crucial.
We all need to know this in order to become conscious …
in order to solve the problem.

Too many of us say we love our children, yet abuse them consciously or beneath our awareness,
in secret or right out in the open,
under the guise of some supposedly high principle or just plain willfully.

So many of us say we love our children yet abuse them . . . physically, sexually, emotionally, mentally, energetically, and spiritually.

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We may not want to know this. We may not want anyone else to know this.
We may normalize it, deny it, outright justify it.
Far too many of us say we love our children and are doing these things for their own good* … lying to others and ourselves, as we make these high-minded claims.

And the problem is not just those of us who actually abuse our children.

It’s the other parent who doesn’t protect them. It’s the other supposedly adult members of the extended family who don’t protect them. It’s the neighbors who don’t protect them.  It’s the institutions that don’t protect them. It’s the law that doesn’t protect them.

It’s those who are afraid and don’t protect our children.
It’s those who were abused themselves and don’t protect our children.
It’s those who were abused themselves and don’t do their own healing work to the roots of their being and therefore don’t protect our children.
It’s those who have some issue within themselves that blocks their seeing and taking protective and preventative action.
It’s those who are somehow acting out something from their own lives as children long, long ago.
It’s those who are blind, deaf, and numb, who don’t recognize what is occurring.

We are all somehow part of the problem.
We all somehow contribute to the problem.

If we just pay attention right now to the sexual abuse of children …
Just for starters …

Think of all the gymnasts who were sexually violated by gymnastic doctors, in a culture where people knew and kept their mouths shut.

Think of all the athletes who were sexually violated by coaches, in a culture where people knew and kept the secret.

Think of all the children who were allegedly sexually abused by scout leaders or volunteers in the Boy Scouts. Over 12,000 alleged instances by over 7800 alleged abusers. Data was kept by The Boy Scout organization since 1944 – “perversion files” about these violations – and these people were removed from scouting. But the Boy Scouts organization did not inform the community that these people were known to be abusers of children. They did not protect the children.

Think of all the children sexually violated by Catholic priests, children who wouldn’t have been abused if others in the Catholic culture who knew – not only at the level of priest, but upward in the hierarchy – had stepped up to protect the children.

The courageous and impactful movie, Spotlight, told the story of the Boston Globe revealing the layers and layers of child molestation by priests and the silence and lack of protection of the children by the Catholic chain of command. Also revealed was the neglect of others in the community to pay attention, take action, and reveal the tragic abuse long before it was actually done by the Globe. Among them, lawyers, journalists, and more …

Victim’s advocate Phil Saviano met with the reporters on the Spotlight team at the Globe, giving them an in depth understanding about the clergy abuse that was occurring.  He is known to have told them … “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them.”

As a depth psychotherapist and Midwife to the Soul, I have been writing and teaching about this for years. There have been events occurring recently that brought it to the foreground again in my mind, heart and soul, calling me to speak out about it once more.

Mind you, this is a mirror to us not only of how we react to the sexual abuse of children, but also of how we react to other serious problems in our lives – in our families, in our institutions and organizations, in our countries and in our world.

Stay tuned for the next in this series … just as compelling as this installment …
perhaps even more.

 

*See Alice Miller’s profound book, For Your Own Good: Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence, original version, in German, 1980. Translation 1983, by Hildegarde and Hunter Hannum, published by Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New York.

© Judith Barr, 2019.

 

 

 

 

WHERE HAVE I BEEN? WHERE AM I GOING?

WHERE HAVE WE BEEN? WHERE ARE WE GOING?

Hello dear readers …

I’ve been on a very different schedule with my blog posts lately.
It feels important that I don’t leave you wondering, but instead let you know why.

The last articles you received from me were
April 1st, June 15th, and June 21st.
Between April 1st and June 15th, I was leading my annual Sacred Circle 6-day residential intensive.
And . . . in the midst of the intensive, we experienced the tornado that hit my state, town, neighborhood, and my own home and grounds.
I felt I could offer you so much in a preview on trauma, as related to the tornado.
And then I sent you a more in depth article on trauma in our world today on the day of the summer solstice.

Since then . . . no blog post has come forth.
I have been witnessing, holding, and feeling what is going on in our country and our world.
I have been seeking within to find what is in truth and love to offer to you . . .
What would be most useful and valuable to you individually and to us nationally and internationally.

I have been consistently aware of the tale of the frog in the water.
If the frog were put in a pot of water that was boiling,
it would jump right out.
But the frog isn’t put in boiling water.
It is, instead, put in a pot of just warm water.
It stays there contentedly.
Gradually the water temperature is raised.
The frog is not aware of the impending danger…
until it is too late.

The tale of the frog is a mirror to us
to be aware of and to respond – from the deepest levels –
to the threats that have been coming gradually
in our lives, in our country, in our world.

As I’ve been attuned moment by moment to what is occurring …
my muse has helped me give birth to a book, deeply explaining how we really got where we are today
and what we need to do in response.
I’m in the midst of getting the book ready to make available to you and others all over the world.

Many blessings to you all until . . .
Judith

PS If you would like an inscribed copy of the book, I will let you know how you can make that happen
in my newsletter.  Sign up for it at:  https://judithbarr.com/judith-barr-newsletter/

 

 

 

Heartfelt Memories That Can Help Us Today – The Cuban Missile Crisis

As things have gotten scary in our country and our world in the recent past, and as the state of our safety has evermore become a conscious concern … a lot has come up for all of us.  As a person, I work to be in tune with my thoughts, feelings, and memories.  As a psychotherapist, I help others do the same.   And as both, I have, since I first heard it, been in tune with George Santayana’s famous quote: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  I see the truth of that in our individual lives.  It’s at the heart of the healing depth psychotherapy I do with people.  And I see the truth of Santayana’s wisdom in our communal lives.  It’s at the heart of the possibilities of healing in our country and our world.

So as things have heated up with terrorism, mass shootings, and more … I have worked even harder, and even deeper for myself, with my clients, and with those who read my blog and my website … to remember the past that is calling us to heal.

With the threats from North Korea, memories have surfaced for me from my senior year in high school.  Memories that I never really forgot. They just weren’t foreground.  I remember being sent home from school in the heat of the Cuban Missile Crisis – don’t know if that was during or at the end of the school day.  I know we were supposed to go right home, where it was supposedly going to be safe.  That was like ducking under our desks for an air raid drill.

But a few of my closest friends and I went to a nearby playground, sat on the ground, and talked.

I don’t remember our saying we were scared.  I don’t remember our saying we were scared because we lived right outside Washington, D.C., and were afraid we would be killed by a missile.  I know we were both … because I knew myself and I knew my friends.  And because of what we spoke about.  We talked about what we meant to each other.  We talked about what we loved about life.  We talked about what we didn’t want to lose.  We may have even spoken about what we wanted to do in the future – meaning if we were still okay after the crisis.

And then we went home.  I went home with my heart full.  I went home deeply thankful for my dear friends.

This memory keeps coming back as things continue developing in our country and our world today.  And each time it returns, my heart opens ever wider … I share with people I’m close to what they mean to me … I share with people what I love about life … I share with people what I want to do in the future to help us be okay. And by doing so, I invite them to share back with me.

I originally wrote a version of this post for my high school class newsletter.  One of my classmates shared back:  she “has been surprised to learn that her friends who grew up in other parts of the country have almost no memory of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  It was a news item to them, not a threat to their lives.”  For us, it was a definite threat to our lives.

I hope you will take this to heart …

When something is a threat to your life.
When something is a news item to you, but a threat to someone else’s life.
When something is not remembered, and as a result gets repeated in your personal history and your family, national, and global histories.
When it is time to do your part in the healing.
When you search for a way to do that healing in the deepest way possible.

I hope you will take this to heart and will feel my sharing this with you to be an invitation to you to share back with me.  It could help in the healing, and it could bring us closer in these challenging times.

© Judith Barr, 2018

HARVEY AND IRMA

The foreboding that came with the forecasts of Harvey and Irma was real.
The trepidation that preceded the hurricanes was real.
The dread as they came closer and closer escalated.
The panic as they hit was beyond measure.
The surges after the landfall, terrifying, as well.
The devastation done on every level of being, surreal, yet all too real.
The trauma experienced mentally, emotionally, and physically was massive.
The impact long-lasting … longer lasting than we even want to know.

For those of us who don’t live where the hurricanes caused their visible, physical damage … most of us are on to other things. Certainly, the media is. Those, however, who lived right there in the wake of the storms are left with unimaginable months and even years of grieving, clean-up and restoration, along with triggers to be triggered every time clouds darken the skies, winds start to blow, rains come, there is a forecast of a hurricane … who knows what might trigger the memories and feelings from Harvey and Irma?

Who knows what might trigger the memories and feelings for those who witnessed these mammoth storms? And who knows what these storms themselves may have triggered for those living through it up close and personal, as well as those living through it from afar?

We all go through storms in our lives – inside and out – and those storms stay with us, some in our awareness and some beneath our conscious memory. Birth is a storm common to us all. Being born is like a storm to a tiny being. Just imagine – pushed, out of control, by forces bigger than you, out of your home toward someplace unknown, flooded with feelings you can’t even express, and it feels like – and may even actually be – life and death!

Even if we just explore the example of birth, the original experience is a trauma. The memories and feelings of that trauma are long-lasting. The cues that can trigger memory and emotion are beyond count. The attempt to hold at bay the experience in all its painful and frightening aspects is beneath consciousness for most of us. And how many of us realize there are consequences in our lives – individual and communal – that come from the storm of being born and our attempts to bury and hold that storm at bay?

For starters … we hold back on giving birth in our lives. Perhaps we hold back on allowing new inspirations that could change our lives – our personal and our global lives – for the better. Perhaps we hold back on putting those inspirations into action. Perhaps we put them into action but then freeze half-way through, three-quarters of the way through, or just before the moment of birth. Defending ourselves, without our even realizing it, from feeling again and re-experiencing the storm of our own birth into this world.

And if this is true of something so natural as birth, imagine how true it is of other traumas – unnatural traumas we experience even as tiny little children! Abuse, neglect, loss, abandonment, and more. These traumas occur more often than we imagine. To more children than we want to imagine.

Those children – each in their own way, each related to their own personal storms – are triggered when, for example:
The foreboding comes with the forecasts of a storm. (Dad comes home to find Mom in a bad mood.)
The trepidation comes that precedes yet another hurricane, real in their own life. (Dad storms out and slams the door.)
The dread escalates as the storm comes closer and closer. (Dad calls from the bar and says he’ll be home in an hour.)
The panic is beyond measure as the next storm hits. (Dad walks in the door and yells at Mom as he walks in their room.)
The surge after the new storm’s landfall is terrifying, as well. (Mom is sobbing and screaming; the children are sobbing, too.)
The devastation done on every level of being, is surreal, yet all too real. (The imprint of the storm on everyone is real.)
The trauma experienced mentally, emotionally, and physically is massive.
The impact of the storms before and yet-another-storm is long-lasting … longer lasting than we even want to know.

And those children – ourselves included – take steps to defend ourselves against the floods of memories and feelings. As children, these steps are crucial for our sanity and our lives. As we grow, those same defenses are in place as part of our being, and they become reflexive and involuntary in response to certain triggers. But those steps may also create new steps and new storms and new terror and devastation.

One of the first things I learned in my training as a depth psychotherapist – our defenses end up creating the very thing we are defending against. So, we end up creating more storms when we defend against the original storms. The storms we create may be emotional, mental, physical, spiritual. This could help us understand how we have played a role in the drastic changes in our climate that are giving birth to new bigger, and more devastating storms.

If we don’t heal our storms, we won’t be able to sense, see, hear, feel, or act upon dangers when they are right in front of us. We may freeze, fight, or flee instead of taking the kind of action that is needed.

As harm begins to appear on the horizon, if more of us had healing from our once-childhood storms – now storms within us – the dangers we are experiencing now in our world might have been stopped … awhile back, long ago, or in their tracks.

With each original storm, there is so much grieving, clean up, restoration, and healing that needs to be done – within ourselves. And with each storm after that, the repair needed on every level of being is multiplied beyond measure.

But we can heal from our original storms, and the many storms we experienced after that in our young lives, and those we re-enacted in our lives as we grew. By healing, we can help decrease the storms in our lives, in the lives of our children, and in the lives of our world.

By healing, we can help decrease the storms that are within our control. And perhaps there are more storms within our control than we can imagine before we do the healing. This is the hope! The healing is the hope!

© Judith Barr, 2017.

NOTE: This same understanding could be related to the earthquakes in Mexico and New Zealand, wildfires in the western US, flooding in India, terrorist attacks in Europe, and more …

The Patriarchy’s Greatest Weapon Is To Get Us To Not Feel

Healing the Patriarchy From the Inside Out – Not Just From the Outside In

In the 1980’s, I took a leap of faith into a journey unlike any I’d taken before. Having been a psychotherapist in private practice for over a decade, poetry started flowing through me … poetry related to women and the healing of our wounds. *

It began with the wounds to our menstrual time,1 a call to turn what had become known as “curse” back into the sacred time it truly was on all levels of being – continuous cycles of birth, death, and renewal, month after month after month, leading us home to our deepest core selves.

It deepened further and expanded to wounds to our sexual selves through incest and other forms of sexual abuse, blatant and subtle, personal and cultural … wounds that had disconnected us from our own experiences of birth, growth into fullness, and death (orgasm itself is known as “la petite mort,” meaning “the little death”.) Painful wounds that had disconnected us from union – with ourselves and others.

It stretched across our lives into wounds experienced in our elder years, when “menopause” had also been seen as a curse, as a time when life was over; and when women had been seen as “useless hags” instead of as the wise women we truly are.

It reached into our emotional and spiritual selves through our feelings, our sense of connection, and our own deeply feminine power.2 It brought to light the profound power of our feelings (used well), out of the shadows of the wounding – humiliating degradation of feelings as “illogical,” “irrational,” “too sensitive,” “weak,” “crybaby,” “hysterical,” and more.3 From the very beginning of this journey, it called me to call women to become our true selves, or as I came to name it, “ourselves in truth and love.” 4

Many women were helped to heal through my poetry readings, workshops, newsletters, and then audio recordings. Many were helped to discover and work to heal deep wounding and trauma through these opportunities. This work I was so deeply called to was referenced by other women responding to their own parallel call, including Lara Owen in Her Blood Is Gold, and Alexandra Pope in The Wild Genie.

Many men were also deeply touched by my work, which surprised, yet delighted me. There were times in poetry readings and workshops when men were moved to tears. It was such a blessing to see in relation to the wounding I was helping to bring out into the open.

It didn’t take me long to realize I was not only working to help women heal their own wounding and trauma, I was also being guided to help heal the patriarchy in our country – and our world.5 Actually, this was evident from the beginning, from my very first audio recording, ”The Call of My Blood Mysteries.”  In some poems it was more subtle: “A Menstrual Journey: The Old and The Dark” and “A Menstrual Journey: The New, The Light, and The Possibility.” In others it was downright obvious: “I Live in The House of My Father.”  This poem named the psychological, emotional, energetic, spiritual levels of the patriarchy we grew up under. Here’s the beginning of the poem:

I live in the house of my father.
I cannot feel.
It looks like I have a mother,
but elsewhere she lives,
not with me.
I live alone in the house of my father,
and I dare not feel. 

Feeling is safe only with a mother
t
o hold me, feel me, let me know I’m safe.
It looks like I have a mother.
Not really. I don’t.
She lives in the house of her father.
No mother has she,
so she cannot feel either,
neither herself, nor me.

So I live in the house of my father,
and I dare not feel.”

This expression of the effects of the patriarchy not only reveals its impact on women, it also reveals the consequences for men. Men who cannot feel, men who dare not feel. Men who cannot feel their own authentic feelings. Men who cannot connect with themselves deeply and vulnerably. Men who cannot connect with others undefendedly (but not defenselessly) … because they lived in the houses of their fathers, with mothers who lived in the houses of their fathers.

If I had spoken only of this aspect of the patriarchy, it would touch every other aspect that existed and exists.

Without knowing how to feel safely,
without knowing what feelings it’s in truth to act on,
without knowing what feelings are guides to follow for healing,
without know what feelings it’s in truth to only explore safely
  with someone else or ourselves,
without knowing the boundary between having feelings and
  acting them out . . .
we inevitably contribute to the patriarchy, with or without our
  awareness.

Without being able to feel, we collude with the patriarchy. Without being able to feel and know what to do with our feelings, we feed the patriarchy. Without being able to feel safely, connect with ourselves and each other deeply and safely … we become part of the patriarchy.

My book and my blog6 illustrate how important our feelings are – both our conscious and unconscious feelings. Here I’m reflecting that importance in yet another way – through the lens of the patriarchy.

Some all along have been focusing on ending the patriarchy from the outside in – efforts and steps that needed and still need to be part of the response to the patriarchy, just not the only response.  Those efforts brought to the foreground the truth that men were not the only participants in the patriarchy. Women also acted in behalf of the patriarchy in many ways, both passive and active. Among limitless examples are these: Not only men, but also women who were misogynists, who hated women, including themselves. Women who handed their daughters over to their husbands – consciously or not. Women who supported male sexual abuse and harassment – like the women who supported Clarence Thomas against Anita Hill. Women like the Chief Elder played by Meryl Streep in the recent movie, The Giver, based on the 1993 novel by Lois Lowry. Women, like the wives and female “enforcers” in Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book, The Handmaid’s Tale, revived in Hulu’s video series last year.

Others, including me, were focusing on healing the patriarchy from the inside out. Healing the patriarchy as it exists within each one of us, male and female. Healing the vicious cycle of the patriarchy within that has been wounded by the patriarchy and that, as a consequence, wounds from the patriarchy. Amongst us was Sue Monk Kidd, who followed and shared her journey from “daughter of the patriarchy” to “dissident daughter” to her own “feminine soul.” 7

As time wore on and our work went deeper and broader, we realized that there would, at some point, be a backlash from the patriarchy to our healing work. That backlash has been coming for a long time. And now it has come with a vengeance. It is right here in our country and world today, trying to impose its power and force upon us all, acting out in destructive ways – destructive to all of us, even those who are most obviously active in enforcing its distorted power.

This doesn’t mean we were unsuccessful at our healing steps. It means we were so successful that the patriarchy in all its forms, in all its embodiment was threatened and instead of surrendering to a healthier way within and without, it prepared to resist.

We will not give up in the face of the patriarchy’s vengeance and fear. We will once again surrender – in the best sense of the word – to our call to heal the patriarchy… not just from the outside, but from the inside out.

Not just in others, but from within our very selves.

Here are vital clues to help in our healing …
Patriarchy is not just about men. Their part in the patriarchy may be the most visible, audible, and palpable. But …  the patriarchy is about men and women, and even children. It’s about all of us.

Patriarchy is not about politics. Politics is one of the venues through which the patriarchy has its most visible, most undeniable impact.

Patriarchy is personal. It is communal. It is global.
Patriarchy is about human nature in the need of growth, evolution, and healing.
The patriarchy’s greatest weapon is to get us to not feel safely –
to not heal and go through our own renewal.

Without being able to feel and feel safely, we all lose.
Without being able to feel and know what to do with our feelings safely, we all lose.
Without being able to feel safely, connect with ourselves and each other deeply and safely, we all lose …
individually and communally.

© Judith Barr, 2017

*The original recordings of this poetry have been transformed into mp3’s for current day audiences.
1 “The Call of My Blood Mysteries,” mp3 by Judith Barr
https://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/spoken-word-on-behalf-of-the-feminine/
2 “Weeding Through Distortion to The Truth,” mp3 by Judith Barr
https://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/weeding-through-distortion-to-the-truth/
3 “Feeling: A Form of Prayer,” mp3 by Judith Barr
https://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/feeling-a-form-of-prayer/
4 “Woman, Come to Your Self,” mp3 by Judith Barr
https://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/woman-come-to-yourself/
5 “Healing The Feminine Betrayal of The Feminine,” mp3 by Judith Barr
https://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/healing-the-feminine-betrayal-of-the-feminine/
6 Power Abused, Power Healed, by Judith Barr
https://judithbarr.com/power-abused-power-healed/
“PoliPsych,”  https://judithbarr.com/blog/
7 Dance of The Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd, HarperOne, 1996.

 

 

Healing the World Through Truth and Love – Real Truth and Love

THE POWER OF ONE,
THE POWER OF A FEW

Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”* There are ways in which a single person and a small group of committed people can change the world, ways about which many do not know.

In my work with people, I teach about commitment. Full, whole-hearted, both-feet-in commitment. Commitment that is kept and deepened because it was made in what I call “truth and love.” Commitment that was made not because somebody taught or said you should. Commitment that was made not because you were forced. Commitment that was made not because you thought you were obligated.  But rather . . . Commitment that was made earnestly and commitment that was and is truly aligned with your soul.

I teach that contrary to popular lore, as we proceed with our commitments, the “obstacles” that emerge are not really obstacles. Rather they are signs of our fears emerging to be met, faced, and worked through. They are signs of wounds crying out to be healed. Signals of places within us where we are split, or where there is a rupture in our own wholeness …showing us the need for repair, for unifying within. Inviting us to do the inner work of healing and transformation that again and again leads to a deepening of our commitment.

I help those with whom I work discover, through experience, making their commitments more and more full commitments … until eventually, they are, themselves, becoming more and more “full commitment.” The miracles that come of this work are awe-inspiring.

Last month I shared with you about my then-upcoming week-long intensive with some of the women with whom I have worked deeply and in this way. These are women who, on many levels, have already become some of the most committed people I know. So committed, in fact, that they keep discerning where there are currents within them in which they aren’t fully committed – currents that are undermining them in some way.

This past weekend, we have done a follow up weekend intensive. And on the heels of the long intensive, the work has been breath-taking. Or should I say “breath-giving.”

Every piece of work was beautiful. Deep. Tender. Heart-wrenching, but healing. Vulnerable yet powerful. Profound. Courageous. A birthing of the women more deeply into themselves. And as with every time we work, we lit a candle to symbolize that our work would affect us individually, as a circle of women, those in our lives, those we touch as we walk through life, and our country, our world, and our universe. Often, as someone does her work, it is clear how that piece of work will have an expansive positive impact.  For example, if a woman does work expressing her prejudice, that she never felt safe before to express because she feared she would be shamed for it, we knew that by doing that work, she was pulling her portion of the prejudice out of the cauldron of prejudice in the global consciousness. Or if she did work expressing her fear of people – because the people in her childhood family were not safe – we knew that was part of her contribution to healing the unsafety in our world. We knew, for example, that work would help her distinguish who is really safe from who is not. And that it would assist her in not re-creating and re-enacting unsafe situations from her childhood in her life today and our world today.

This past weekend, there was one piece of work done the second day of the intensive, that was particularly magnificent and clear … in what it meant not only for that woman, not only for the circle of women, but also for our world.

Sara was struggling with following her profession, the one that is her gift and her passion. She felt like nothing was going right. Everything was getting in her way. And she was considering leaving the profession she loved so much and doing something else. At the beginning of the workshop, we had talked about the possibility of her work starting with her saying in the circle “I quit,” meaning “I quit my job,” and then opening that up more deeply.

In my work with people I have found that if I can help people do what I call “inhabiting their feelings,” it will help them refrain from acting out those feelings out in the world, while at the same time helping them heal from the wounds long ago that caused those feelings. I teach them how to very safely “enact” those feelings in their session or in an intensive … helping them, supporting them all the way through the piece of work.

So back to Sara … although we had talked about her inhabiting “I quit,” as she was sharing, she also said she was aware she wasn’t committed to truth and love. That she was committed to what she wanted and she was committed to having her way, but not to truth and love. I knew that was an important clue. I sensed it was bigger, deeper, more impactful than “I quit.”
So at the beginning of her time working in the circle, I suggested she start by expressing just that:
“I’m not committed to truth and love.”
She did … and let it unfold …
“I’m not committed to truth and love.
You can’t make me. I’m not going to.
You can’t force me.
I won’t.
No. No. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”

With deep, involuntary crying all through what she was saying,
and saying it again and again and again.
At times it sounded like she was raging.
At times like she was scared.
At others it sounded like she was hurt.
Still others in pain.
At times she sounded like a baby.
Most of the time her crying sounded much younger than the words she kept saying …
because, of course, the words were the thread that was helping her open up something deep within her.

Just short of an hour later, it was clear she had done what was needed for this piece of work, and that she needed the time to be, to rest, to integrate what had just happened … even though she didn’t know what it meant, didn’t understand where it had led or where it was still headed. She had simply trusted to let herself safely, for the purpose of healing, feel and express what had been calling from her depths.

There is still more for her to do with this thread. More entering and deepening the path of commitment for her. Later, though, after she’d had a chance to integrate a bit, she realized that if what she saw as a child was truth and love – she didn’t want any of it. She didn’t want truth that was a front for lies and deceit. She didn’t want love that was a guise for objectifying, controlling, and hurting her.

In those moments, right after her work, before she integrated, before she could move from the primal feelings, I shared the inspiration that had come to me during her work. I knew she was doing the work for herself in her own healing and growth. I knew it would also be helpful to the other women in the circle. And I knew it would be helpful to our world … a world that is in great difficulty right now. A world in which so many are acting out in such damaging, destructive ways. A world in which others are unaware of their complicity. A world in which too many are focused on fixing things on the outside. A world in which still others aren’t aware of how to help in the healing, or even that there is a way to heal from the inside out.

My inspiration:
Each woman in the group likely had the same current within herself – “I’m not committed to truth and love.”
Each person in the world probably had the same current within him/herself.
And one of the best things we, as a circle of women, could do to help our world right now, would be if each member of the circle would do her version of the same work we had just witnessed – inhabiting “I am not committed to truth and love.” By doing that … we could pull out of the cauldron of the collective unconscious our portions of “I’m not committed to truth and love.  And not only that, but also … by doing so we would give an emotional and energetic imprint to our world and the people of our world of healing the place where each one is not committed, or not fully committed, to truth and love.

It is my prayer that you will let this article be an invitation to you …
to explore the current in you that isn’t fully committed to truth and love;
to explore the place in you where you need to work more deeply to heal from the root;
to explore the place in you where you need to learn how to utilize your feelings for healing;
to explore the place in you where you could help our world from the inside out …
in ways you have never before known possible.

© Judith Barr, 2017

NOTE: This article was posted with the permission of the members of the group.

* https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/margaretme100502.html